Volunteering at Malama Huleia is more than just a site visit and being a helping hand - it is an educational experience of a Hawaiian cultural design that is relevant to this day. At every point there is something to learn about native species, natural systems and our kuleana to restore what was once a sustainable ecosystem. As keepers of this site, we have taken the responsibility of sharing our knowledge while encouraging the curiosity and learning process we hope to inspire future stewardship of the land we are restoring.
Place-based education is a core principle for our organization and in the last few years we have expanded our educational partnerships through hosting schools and organizations onsite. Alakoko has a unique opportunity to provide an outdoor classroom experience that enhances learning and understanding which leads to appreciation of our natural resources creating future stewards of the land.
In March, due to COVID, we had to pause site visits and community work days limiting our ability to provide the community education that we are so passionate about. In the same way we approach restoration - adapting to overcome challenges - we began to explore how we could still deliver an educational experience through virtual channels. With the support of DOE OHE, we curated a virtual huaka'i (field trip) experience to share the valuable education that is available from our site and launched an educational video on youtube.
This video became the starting point of developing further curriculum to support schools and continue eco-cultural education in the schools. As an Aloha Aina partner with Kamehameha Schools, we are continuing to expand our educational resources through custom created curriculum that is based on the 6 topics outline in our initial video:
By Jan TenBruggencate, Member, Mālama Hulē‘ia Board of Directors
Malama Huleia refers to this ancient Hawaiian fishpond by the name Alakoko, the spelling most commonly used in the earliest references from the 1800s. But this historic site has had many names.
Most people today call it the Menehune Fishpond and many folks use the name ‘Alekoko. However, Hawaiian Land Court records and Hawaiian language newspapers dating to the 1800s, in the earliest references, mainly use the spelling Alakoko. An 1852 Land Court document about lands in Niumalu, by surveyor W.H. Pease, refers to ka loko o Alakoko (the Alakoko fishpond). Issues of the newspapers Ka Leo o Ka Lahui and Nupepa Ka Oiaio from 1895 use Alakoko. In his 1923 book, Hawaiian Legends, William Hyde Rice, who was born on Kaua‘i in 1846, uses Alakoko. In her book Koamalu, Ethel Damon, who was born in 1883, uses Alakoko.
The alternate spelling Alekoko, without the addition of the diacritical `okino before the first letter, is seen, though rarely, before 1900. Not the first, but among the first to use the spelling Alekoko was Thomas Thrum, who was not Hawaiian-born and not from Kaua‘i, in a 1920 edition of the Journal of the Polynesian Society. The term with the Alekoko spelling appears in a story he wrote involving Menehune.
Malama Huleia is consciously integrating a kilo practice along with our restoration efforts. To kilo is to observe your environment which is specific to place and unique to each individual. The moon cycle influences the tides and movement of water through gravitational pull affecting ecosystems and our restoration work. The long tradition by our ancestors of observing the moon has resulted in knowledge of timing for optimal fishing and farming practices. Below is a brief overview of a few of the moons in this upcoming season.
New Moon/First moon (Muku, Hilo)
October 16th 9:31am :: November 14th 7:07pm :: December 14th 6:16am
The Muku moon is the 30th moon, the end of the moon cycle. It is when the moon is in front of the sun; the backside is lit and the frontside facing earth is dark. The first moon is a faint streak of light; key concept - “ilo” to germinate/sprout. Good time for planting seeds (not tubers or bananas). Great for beach and reef fishing, observing extreme high and low tides. A good for setting or re-setting personal goals and intentions.
Our vision is to create a free-flowing, healthy and productive Huleia ecosystem perpetuating community pride. We do this by advocating, educating and leading community efforts to restore native wetland ecosystems, that result in an environmental stewardship program honoring Hawaiian values. To find out more about ways to support or partner in our work please contact us.